What to do when you don't know what to do

"The world's on fire, it's more than I can handle." - Sarah McLachlan

Let’s face it: 2020’s been shit. This year will be remembered in decades to come for its epic shithousery. So many wild things that would’ve raised a raucous in other years are child’s play for 2020. Fires ravage half of Australia? Pfft. America’s president impeached? Pfft. British Royals renounce their palace duties? Pfft. How can all of these contest with the passing of Kobe & Gigi Bryant, the UK leaving Europe, a global pandemic shutting down the world, and one of the biggest global uprisings in recent times for the rights of Black lives?

Tired is an understatement. We’re just in June, FFS.

But there’s another thing you’ve probably not let yourself admit: you’re not only tired, you’ve suddenly become tentative, restless, rudderless. You’re no longer sure what you’re doing. That thing you were so pumped about in December 2019? Welp. Not so certain anymore. Particular solidarity with empty-nesters who finally whipped out your bucket lists after thinking you’ve booted out all the kids, only to have them come isolate with you for monthsss. Cue tears. (“Of joy,” you say, but we know what they’re really about, don’t we, Sally?)

Bottom line: suddenly, you find yourself not really knowing what to do next. And that’s happening more often than usual. What now?

I don’t have the answers. But I’ve been reflecting on some of the survival methods and coping mechanisms I’m employing. Mileage may vary, so feel free not to take my word for it, or to try out other things.

  1. Maybe start by stopping. Stop holding yourself accountable to bars set by your pre-July-2020 self. The world has changed too much to think you’re still that person. No one is, and anyone who tells you otherwise deserves a one-week excursion to Florida as punishment.

  2. Denial does more harm. “I’m strong, I can power through this” can be a good way to galvanise yourself, but not if you use it as a bludgeon in every situation. You’re not a superalien from the asteroid belt, you’re a puny human on planet earth, a collection of meat and bones and feelings strung together. “I am not okay” is fine. “I cannot do this” is fine too. “I don’t know” is valid.

  3. Piecemeal is the best meal. Piecemeal (adj, adv): made or done in separate stages rather than being planned and done as a whole. For the foreseeable future, you may have to get comfortable with being unable to plan stuff, concentrate on anything past 10 seconds, or perform your most loved pastimes (like reading, or even basic functions like eating and sleeping) at a high level. Where you can, try to cut things down to bite-size. A 2-hour meal might now take 10 hours to prepare—no one’s counting. Work patterns may shift to accommodate shorter periods—expected. TL;DR: you’re not a machine. Slow down, do less, rest more, heal.

  4. Get help whe(r/n)ever you can. Now is not the time for heroics. Ask for all the help you need (so long as your ask doesn’t dig too deeply into the time, space, labour & resources of others). If you can afford to, pay for it. Go for stuff that makes you feel/perform better. Go to therapy (virtually). Staying healthy and alive is heroic enough. You’re here for a good time and a long time. Act like it.

  5. Above all, stay safe. We’re not out of the woods yet.

Ọkhionwiẹ, my lovelies. See you around.